Tip of the Week

Tips from Scott Hauge of CAL Insurance & Associates

 

April 25, 2017 Tip:

Always notify your insurance company/broker if you have a change of ownership in your company.

April 18, 2017 Tip:

When you have an employee that is injured, it is a good idea to contact them with in 24 hours after the injury.  This goes a long way in allaying any fears the employee may have and it also sets a tone that you care about them.  You should also try to contact them occasionally to see how they are doing.  This can help in getting them back to work and reduce the chances of them seeking an attorney.

April 11, 2017 Tip

Every business with employees should consider employment practices coverage. This provides you coverage should you be sued  for wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. Some policies also include wage  and hour defense cost.

You also want to add to coverage for  third party liability which includes Americans with Disability Act lawsuits and other third party liability.

April 4, 2017 Tip:

If you are a subcontractor and are asked by a general contractor to do a job with a WRAP/OCIP be very careful to understand  what the coverage is under a WRAP. Be careful to check the coverage amounts and deductibles. Usually the WRAP covers workers compensation and general liability. Do not sign the contract with the general before talking to your insurance broker.

February 28, 2017 Tip:

Always notify your insurance company/broker if you have a change of ownership in your company.

February 21 2017 Tip:

If you are an employer and have employee information stored in your computer – like social security numbers, credit cards, health information, drivers’ license numbers,  etc. – you have liability if your computer is breached. Make sure to have  proper protections in place and talk to your broker about cyber liability coverage.

February 14, 2017 Tip: 

Before the winter rain storms get under way, take some time to prepare your property and try to protect against damage.

  • Check that all the gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, and try to direct the flow of water away from your home or building.
  • If you have any broken or downed tree limbs remove them so they do not cause a hazard.
  • Even though the storm drain in your immediate vicinity might be your city’s responsibility, take a few minutes to check that it looks clear as well.
  • Put away any outside furniture (or holiday decorations) that might be picked up by the wind.
  • Make sure you have good, operating flashlights and radios, and that you and your family are prepared to be without power if necessary
  • Make sure to charge any electronics, cell phones, laptops etc, so that you have a way to communicate if power or phone lines go down.
  • Be safe, try to stay off the roads if possible!

February 7, 2017 Tip:

If you have employees that work at customers locations you might want to verify that you have coverage for employee theft of customers property. This is excluded on most general liability policies.

January 31, 2017 Tip

The leading cause of occupational death is driving accidents. Statistics show that you are 4 times more likely to have a collision if you are talking on the cell while driving and 23 times more likely to have a collision if you are texting.

What is really important to know is that an employer can be held liable if they encourage their employees to talk on the cell or text while driving and there is an accident where the employee is at fault.

A good policy for employers is to have a company policy  telling employees not to use the cell or text while driving.

January 24, 2017 Tip

If you are renting commercial space, be sure to review the provisions that say what you as a tenant are responsible for. This goes beyond insurance – there may be provisions that hold you responsible for disability access, for example. I strongly recommend you consult an attorney before signing any lease.

January 17, 2017 Tip

When you are reviewing your business interruption coverage be sure to consider whether your business would be impacted if any of your vendors, customers, or key suppliers were shut down due to a fire or other perils. If you have this situation talk to your broker about dependent properties.

January 10, 2017 Tip

The posting requirement for the Cal/OSHA 300-A Annual Summary is quickly approaching. Post in each establishment, in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or covered-up by other material, By February 1st of the year following the year covered by the records until April 30 of that same year.

December 27, 2016 Tip

Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:

  • Review safety tips for portable heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces, generators, and candles
  • Develop a home escape plan and practice it periodically
  • Ensure that you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly

Visit the U.S. Fire Administration for more safety information.

December 20, 2016 Tip

While cost is very important when purchasing insurance, think for a moment, why you are buying insurance? If your answer to this question is to protect your assets then cost becomes less of a factor and protection becomes your primary goal. Remember, the cheapest insurance is no insurance.

December 13, 2016 Tip

If you are renting commercial space, be sure to review the provisions that say what you as a tenant are responsible for. This goes beyond insurance – there may be provisions that hold you responsible for disability access, for example. I strongly recommend you consult an attorney before signing any lease.

December 6, 2016 Tip

Do your supervisors/managers know the proper clinic to send an injured worker too? Too often we get a panicked call saying “our employee is hurt, where do we go?” Having the appropriate location known ahead of time would clearly be a best practice. Give us a call us for help in identifying the insurance company approved clinic near you

November 29, 2016 Tip

Before the winter rain storms get under way, take some time to prepare your property and try to protect against damage.

  • Check that all the gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, and try to direct the flow of water away from your home or building.
  • If you have any broken or downed tree limbs remove them so they do not cause a hazard.
  • Even though the storm drain in your immediate vicinity might be your city’s responsibility, take a few minutes to check that it looks clear as well.
  • Put away any outside furniture (or holiday decorations) that might be picked up by the wind.
  • Make sure you have good, operating flashlights and radios, and that you and your family are prepared to be without power if necessary
  • Make sure to charge any electronics, cell phones, laptops etc, so that you have a way to communicate if power or phone lines go down.
  • Be safe, try to stay off the roads if possible!

 

November 22, 2016 Tip

If you have an independent contractor working for you make sure you get a certificate of insurance  from your Independent Contractor naming you as additional insured. Not only will this protect you in the event of a claim from  liability for the actions of the independent contractor but when you are audited  by your insurance company on your workers compensation and liability the payrolls and receipts will not  be added to your policy

November 8, 2016 Tip

If you are hiring subcontractors with employees and the subcontractor has no workers compensation, you may be liable for your subcontractors employees that are injured on your job.

November 1, 2016 Tip

While cost is very important when purchasing insurance, think for a moment, why you are buying insurance? If your answer to this question is to protect your assets then cost becomes less of a factor and protection becomes your primary goal. Remember, the cheapest insurance is no insurance.

October 25, 2016 Tip

If you are an employer and have employee information stored in your computer – like social security numbers, credit cards, health information, drivers’ license numbers,  etc. – you have liability if your computer is breached. Make sure to have  proper protections in place and talk to your broker about cyber liability coverage.

October 19, 2016 Tip

If you are a subcontractor and are asked by a general contractor to do a job with a WRAP/OCIP be very careful to understand  what the coverage is under a WRAP. Be careful to check the coverage amounts and deductibles. Usually the WRAP covers workers compensation and general liability. Do not sign the contract with the general before talking to your insurance broker.

October 11, 2016 Tip

If you have a claim and have received a letter that appears to be denying the claim please make sure to contact your broker right away.  Sometimes this letter is not an outright denial of the claim, but something called a Reservation of Rights letter.  This letter outlines what the insurance company will and will not cover and may deny parts of the claim but not the whole claim.  Most of the time this happens with General Liability claims and the company may still be defending you.

October 4, 2016 Tip

One of the best pieces of advise I can give business owners is always read contracts and leases before signing. You should consider having an attorney review them  when you don’t fully understand what you are being asked to sign. This simple step can keep you out of a lot of trouble in the future.

September 27, 2016 Tip

If you are an employer and have employee information stored in your computer – like social security numbers, credit cards, health information, drivers’ license numbers,  etc. – you have liability if your computer is breached. Make sure to have  proper protections in place and talk to your broker about cyber liability coverage.

September 20, 2016 Tip

When reviewing your insurance, take a look to see if you have coverage for employee theft. It is called Fidelity Insurance. This can be theft of money over time or theft of materials. I have a client  that was a small business that had $7 million stolen over time. I have another client whose employee was ordering materials and having them delivered to a location that the employer did not know about.

A risk management tip – Always have a counter-signature on your checks!

September 13, 2016 Tip

When selecting your insurance agent or broker you want to secure a person that you see as one of your most important and trusted advisers alongside your banker, attorney and accountant. Insurance should not be viewed as a commodity purchase.

 

September 6, 2016 Tip

If you have any property or business interruption coverages on your insurance policies, you may have a coinsurance requirement. This requires you to insure to a certain value or suffer what could be a severe penalty should you be underinsured when you have a loss. Be sure to discuss with your insurance broker.

 

August 30, 2016 Tip

Do you have Water Back up coverage on your Homeowner’s policy?  It is sometimes included in the coverage but often needs to be added by endorsement.  This is insurance against loss to your property that is caused by water which backs up through sewers or drains and is not caused by the homeowner’s negligence.  Think of flooring that is damaged when a sewer backs up.

It is important to know that not every type of water-related damage is covered, but adding Water Back up is an important coverage to have.

August 23, 2016 Tip

The leading cause of occupational death is driving accidents. Statistics show that you are 4 times more likely to have a collision if you are talking on the cell while driving and 23 times more likely to have a collision if you are texting.

What is really important to know is that an employer can be held liable if they encourage their employees to talk on the cell or text while driving and there is an accident where the employee is at fault.

A good policy for employers is to have a company policy  telling employees not to use the cell or text while driving

August 16, 2016 Tip

Many businesses offer employee benefit plans.  Be sure to check your insurance policy to make sure you have Employee Benefits Liability to protect you against errors and omissions claims arising from the administration of these plans.  This coverage can be included in your General Liability policy for a nominal premium.

August 9, 2016 Tip

As an employer you have a right to ask your workers compensation carrier to investigate questionable claims and withhold payment for 90 days except for the first $10,000 of medical claims. This is another reason you need to report claims immediately because the 90 days starts on the date of the injury.

August 2, 2016 Tip

The leading cause of occupational death is driving accidents. Statistics show that you are 4 times more likely to have a collision if you are talking on the cell while driving and 23 times more likely to have a collision if you are texting.

What is really important to know is that an employer can be held liable if they encourage their employees to talk on the cell or text while driving and there is an accident where the employee is at fault.

A good policy for employers is to have a company policy  telling employees not to use the cell or text while driving.

July 26, 2016 Tip

On your commercial property insurance always make sure you have water backup. This is not the same as flood insurance but covers things like sewer back up.

July 19, 2016 Tip

If you are renting commercial space, be sure to review the provisions that say what you as a tenant are responsible for. This goes beyond insurance – there may be provisions that hold you responsible for disability access, for example. I strongly recommend you consult an attorney before signing any lease.

July 12, 2016 Tip

Many businesses are expanding to other states.  Be sure to contact your insurance broker before hiring in other states to make sure you have coverage.  Many states have substantial fines for not having coverage.  I have seen a fines as high as $37,000 in New York for someone that did not have coverage for only a few months.

Also, in New York you have to take out a separate disability policy.

July 5, 2016 Tip

Though you may have physical damage coverage for rental vehicles on your auto policy, you may not have coverage for loss of use by the car rental agency or diminished value of a rental vehicle should you be involved in an accident while operating a rental vehicle; therefore, we recommend your purchasing the physical damage waiver from a car rental agency when you rent a vehicle.

June 28, 2016 Tip

If you have an employee that goes out on a workers compensation claim do not fire them or cut their hours before consulting an attorney. If you take any measure that might be considered retaliatory you may be the subject of a 132A claim against you. This will not be covered under your workers compensation or liability policy. It can be covered under employment practices insurance but this may have a very significant deductible.

June 21, 2016 Tip

If you offer a retirement plan such as a 401k or a 403b as an employee benefit at least one person within your organization is a fiduciary of the plan.   That person might be you.   Many employers establish a retirement plan without being fully aware of their fiduciary responsibilities. A fiduciary that allegedly breaches an obligation or duty can be held personally liable to make good any losses incurred by the plan resulting from the alleged activity.   Many people also mistakenly assume that when they hire an advisor to administer the retirement program that lets them off the hook.   Not true…   just ask the advisor.

 

3 simple questions:

Do you have the right 401k or 403b advisor?    If not, ask us for an introduction.

Do you have the right TPA overseeing the plan?   If not, ask us for an introduction.

Are you curious about transferring the personal liability via an insurance product for a nominal cost?   If so, ask us for help.

June 14, 2016 Tip

Every business with employees should consider employment practices coverage. This provides you coverage should you be sued  for wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. Some policies also include wage  and hour defense cost.

You also want to add to coverage for  third party liability which includes Americans with Disability Act lawsuits and other third party liability.

 

June 7, 2016 Tip

I strongly recommend Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This covers things like wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination and wage and hour claims. The companies are taking some dramatic increases on these policies so it would be a good time to review with your broker what your current carrier is doing before you renew.

 

May 24, 2016 Tip

If you have insurance  for your building and/ or contents, see if there are any provisions in your policy  that require you to have a fire alarm or burglar alarm, sprinkler system or ansul system working at the time of the claim.   If they are not installed, or if they are not in working at the time of loss you may not have coverage.

May 17, 2016 Tip

Mistakes happen. Your broker should be reviewing your insurance policies but occasionally they will miss something and therefore you should always review your insurance policies to make sure something has not been missed.

May 10, 2016 Tip

Every business with employees should consider employment practices coverage. This provides you coverage should you be sued  for wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. Some policies also include wage  and hour defense cost.

You also want to add to coverage for  third party liability which includes Americans with Disability Act lawsuits and other third party liability.

 

May 3, 2016 Tip

In the event of a fire to your home, how do you come up with a list of things you’ve lost?  A good idea is to take pictures of each room.  Not necessarily of everything individually, but a picture of the room will jog your memory when you are already frazzled over a life event such as a fire.    Most people will remember the furniture easily enough, but what about all the stuff in the drawers, the books on the shelf?    You’ll want to come up with a comprehensive list to give the adjuster so that you’ll be able to replace everything you are entitled to.

April 26, 2016 Tip

It is a good idea to have an inventory of your property in your home or business. It is best to take digital pictures doing a room by room inventory.

April 19, 2016 Tip

Many businesses offer employee benefit plans.  Be sure to check your insurance policy to make sure you have Employee Benefits Liability to protect you against errors and omissions claims arising from the administration of these plans.  This coverage can be included in your General Liability policy for a nominal premium.

April 12, 2016 Tip

Every business with employees should consider employment practices coverage. This provides you coverage should you be sued  for wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. Some policies also include wage  and hour defense cost.

You also want to add to coverage for  third party liability which includes Americans with Disability Act lawsuits and other third party liability.

April 5, 2016 Tip:

As an employer you have a right to ask your workers compensation carrier to investigate questionable claims and withhold payment for 90 days except for the first $10,000 of medical claims. This is another reason you need to report claims immediately because the 90 days starts on  the date of the injury.

March 29, 2016 Tip:

Your insurance broker should be viewed as a trusted advisor like your attorney, accountant, and banker. A good insurance broker should provide more than insurance and should be able to provide you with resources that will help you efficiently run your business.

March 22, 2016 Tip:

Where’s your clinic?: What happens when you suffer a workplace injury? What is the documentation procedure you use? Do your managers know where to send an injured employee during the course of the business day? Each work comp carrier has their own “Medical Provider Network” and as such you’ll want to be sure your staff is educated as to where the nearest approved work comp clinic is.

March 15, 2016 Tip:

We strongly recommend Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This covers things like wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination and wage and hour claims. The companies are taking some dramatic increases on these policies so it would be a good time to review with your broker what your current carrier is doing before you renew.

March 8, 2016 Tip:

Did you know that Workers’ Comp Claims need to be reported to your insurance company as soon as possible?  Insurance companies have only 90 days to decide if they are going to accept or deny a workers’ comp claim.  The sooner the company knows about the claim the sooner they can investigate.  It is a good idea to have at least 1 person (and 1 back up person) within your business that has some working knowledge of how to advise the insurance company a workers’ comp claim.

There are 2 claim forms that need to be completed in order to process a workers’ comp claim.  Form 5020 is the form that is completed by you as the employer.  DWC1 is the form that is completed by the injured employee AND by the employer.  These forms can be faxed or sometimes emailed to the insurance company.  You can also file by calling the insurance company.

It is a good idea to advise your insurance agent/broker any time you have a claim as they can be your best advocate in the event there is an issue or if you have concerns about the claim itself.

We have these claim forms in house and can send you as many as you need. If you have any questions about the claim process please call us and let us know!

March 1, 2016 Tip:

If you have employees that work at customers locations you might want to verify that you have coverage for employee theft of customers property. This is excluded on most general liability policies.

February 23, 2016 Tip:

The posting requirement time for the Cal/OSHA 300-A Annual Summary has arrived. Post in each establishment, in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or covered-up by other material, By February 1st of the year following the year covered by the records until April 30 of that same year.

February 16, 2016 Tip:

If you have a vehicle whether private passenger or commercial covered on a commercial policy, you will need to file with the DMV, proof of insurance.  If you have vehicles on a personal policy, the companies will automatically file for you.

February 9, 2016 Tip:

If you are a business that has employees driving their own vehicles, make sure you ask your broker to provide coverage for non-owned autos.  This covers you should your employee be driving their vehicle while working for you.

It is a good idea to check their driving records and make sure they have insurance.  We recommend they have at least $250,000 in liability coverage and they provide you with a certificate of insurance.

 

February 2, 2016 Tip:

Always notify your insurance company/broker if you have a change of ownership in your company.

January 26, 2016 Tip:

When evaluating what limit of insurance to carry to cover Tenant Improvements and Betterments (TIBs), keep in mind that costs for design, permits, fees (soft costs) and also for installations should be included.

January 19, 2016 Tip:

If you have a homeowners or renters policy remember there are limits for jewelry, furs, cash firearms, and silverware. Make sure you talk to your insurance agent/broker about scheduling these items

 

January 5, 2016 Tip:

If you purchase Employment Practices Insurance to cover your business for things like wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, wage and hour claim etc.  Be sure to check for what is called the hammer clause.  It states if you do not accept a settlement proposed by your insurance company you will be liable to pay either the full amount or some portion of the additional amount that the claim settles for.

December 29, 2015 Tip:

Though you may have physical damage coverage for rental vehicles on your auto policy, you may not have coverage for loss of use by the car rental agency or diminished value of a rental vehicle should you be involved in an accident while operating a rental vehicle; therefore, we recommend your purchasing the physical damage waiver from a car rental agency when you rent a vehicle.

December 22, 2015 Tip:

When you receive an insurance policy, look closely to see if there are any warranties.  Examples of this is, on a policy providing theft insurance is there could be a warranty that your alarm be functioning.  Another example is on an earthquake policy.  There may be a warranty saying your building must be bolted.  If you have these warranties and you don’t have a functioning alarm or your building isn’t bolted you will have no coverage.

 

December 8, 2015 Tip:

Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:

  • Review safety tips for portable heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces, generators, and candles
  • Develop a home escape plan and practice it periodically
  • Ensure that you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly

Visit the U.S. Fire Administration for more safety information.

 

December 1, 2015Tip:

If you are providing health insurance to your employees and not paying for dependents, be very careful about offering coverage for dependents because they will not be eligible for any subsidies in the Exchange.

November 24, 2015Tip:

If you have any property or business interruption coverages on your insurance policies, you may have a coinsurance requirement. This requires you to insure to a certain value or suffer what could be a severe penalty should you be underinsured when you have a loss. Be sure to discuss with your insurance broker.

November 17, 2015 Tip:

Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:

  • Review safety tips for portable heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces, generators, and candles
  • Develop a home escape plan and practice it periodically
  • Ensure that you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly

Visit the U.S. Fire Administration for more safety information.

 

November 10,2015 Tip:

If you own commercial property you may be in a city or county  that might take over 6 months to get your permit to rebuild, should there be major damage to your building. You  should also see how long your business interruption coverage is. Most policies are  for 12 months. You might want to consider extending this to 18 or 24 months.

November 3, 2015 Tip: 

Before the winter rain storms get under way, take some time to prepare your property and try to protect against damage.

  • Check that all the gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, and try to direct the flow of water away from your home or building.
  • If you have any broken or downed tree limbs remove them so they do not cause a hazard.
  • Even though the storm drain in your immediate vicinity might be your city’s responsibility, take a few minutes to check that it looks clear as well.
  • Put away any outside furniture (or holiday decorations) that might be picked up by the wind.
  • Make sure you have good, operating flashlights and radios, and that you and your family are prepared to be without power if necessary
  • Make sure to charge any electronics, cell phones, laptops etc, so that you have a way to communicate if power or phone lines go down.
  • Be safe, try to stay off the roads if possible!

October 27 2015 Tip:

With the upcoming rainy season make sure your property coverage includes sewer backup.  Keep in mind this does not cover rain backup caused by the inability of the sewer system to handle the capacity of water caused by the rain.

October 20 2015 Tip:

Businesses are frequently added by customers as additional insureds.  The thing you should realize is that if there is no contract in writing, the additional insured is not applicable, even if you have a certificate showing the customer as an additional insured.

October 13 2015 Tip:

With the winter season coming and predictions of El Nino, you might want to seriously consider flood insurance as flood is not covered on most property polices.  Keep in mind however that the National Flood Insurance Plan does not provide coverage for business interruption.

October 6 2015 Tip:

One thing you should know about building insurance is that most policies do not cover foundations.  Some companies do make it available but normally it is not covered.

September 22 2015 Tip:

I hope all of you are aware that October 1, businesses that accept credit cards will become liable for credit card fraud if they do not have the ability to accept credit cards only with EMV chips.

Do you have the technology to do this? I am told the cost to implement this is around $900, but companies are giving discounts.  One company I talked to was giving a reduced price of $400.

September 15 2015 Tip:

If you own property and have a loss you may be required to rebuild, and upgrade the property to comply with current building codes and American with Disability Act (ADA) requirements. Make sure to see if you have Building Ordinance Coverage for these upgrades.

September 8 2015 Tip:

Though you may have physical damage coverage for rental vehicles on your auto policy, you may not have coverage for loss of use by the car rental agency or diminished value of a rental vehicle should you be involved in an accident while operating a rental vehicle; therefore, we recommend your purchasing the physical damage waiver from a car rental agency when you rent a vehicle.

September 1 2015 Tip:

If you have an employee that goes out on a workers compensation claim do not fire them or cut their hours before consulting an attorney. If you take any measure that might be considered retaliatory you may be the subject of a 132A claim against you. This will not be covered under your workers compensation or liability policy. It can be covered under employment practices insurance but this may have a very significant deductible.

August 25 2015 Tip:

On your commercial property insurance always make sure you have water backup. This is not the same as flood insurance but covers things like sewer back up.

August 18 2015 Tip:

In a recent report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, they reported that late reporting of workers’ compensation claims can increase the cost by 51%.  The message is to report ALL claims immediately to your insurance carrier.

August 11 2015 Tip:

A great risk management technique is to ask your employees to point out areas where there might be safety issues.

August 4 2015 Tip:

When you are reviewing your business interruption coverage be sure to consider whether your business would be impacted if any of your vendors, customers, or key suppliers were shut down due to a fire or other perils. If you have this situation talk to your broker about dependent properties.

July 28 2015 Tip

For those of you that rent out a room or your home through Airbnb please know that your homeowner policy may not respond if  you are renting through Airbnb. Airbnb has insurance for you but there are exclusions. For example if your guest steals from you or if there is a fire it does not provide debris removal. These are just a couple of examples so I suggest you get a copy of Airbnb’s insurance policy if you are renting your property through them.

 

July 21 2015 Tip:

Recently we have noticed several clients asking about a way for them to create a waiver of liability and/or a hold harmless agreement. Naturally we recommend speaking with their contract attorney and, if they don’t have one, we are always happy to make an introduction to a trusted partner. Along the way we did find a website for those who desired to “give it a go” themselves. Please check out the attached link at: http://www.formsbuildr.com

July 14 2015 Tip:

The leading cause of occupational death is driving accidents. Statistics show that you are 4 times more likely to have a collision if you are talking on the cell while driving and 23 times more likely to have a collision if you are texting.

What is really important to know is that an employer can be held liable if they encourage their employees to talk on the cell or text while driving and there is an accident where the employee is at fault.

A good policy for employers is to have a company policy  telling employees not to use the cell or text while driving.

July 7, 2015 Tip:

If you have any property or business interruption coverages on your insurance policies, you may have a coinsurance requirement. This requires you to insure to a certain value or suffer what could be a severe penalty should you be underinsured when you have a loss. Be sure to discuss with your insurance broker.

June 30,2015 Tip:

If you have workers’ compensation insurance, your company may be doing mid-term audits.  The company will then take your audit and annualize it.  If you had an abnormal payroll for the period and it does not reflect your annual payroll, be sure to note that on the audit sheet.  This is particularly important of you are with the State Fund, as they will renew your policy at the higher payrolls and it is very difficult to get them to reduce this.

June 24,2015 Tip:

For contractors be very careful if you are entering into a project that has a WRAP. Don’t sign the contract without letting your broker see the insurance provisions. Some will require that you provide coverage away from the job. This is always excluded on your general liability and most insurance companies will not allow you to extend coverage. You also might be accepting a much higher deductible that you may have on your coverage.

June 2, 2015 Tip:

When you have an employee that is injured, it is a good idea to contact them with in 24 hours after the injury.  This goes a long way in allaying any fears the employee may have and it also sets a tone that you care about them.  You should also try to contact them occasionally to see how they are doing.  This can help in getting them back to work and reduce the chances of them seeking an attorney.

May 18th, 2015 Tip:

Do you have all your vehicles registered to your corporation?  If so you will want to add Drive Other Car coverage to your commercial policy and add the names of the drivers that will use vehicles not owned by your corporation.  Should you have an accident you will be provided personal liability coverage with this coverage.

May 11th, 2015 Tip:

In the event of a fire to your home, how do you come up with a list of things you’ve lost?  A good idea is to take pictures of each room.  Not necessarily of everything individually, but a picture of the room will jog your memory when you are already frazzled over a life event such as a fire.    Most people will remember the furniture easily enough, but what about all the stuff in the drawers, the books on the shelf?    You’ll want to come up with a comprehensive list to give the adjuster so that you’ll be able to replace everything you are entitled to.

May 4th, 2015 Tip:

If you are a contractor bidding for work that requires a performance bond and a bid bond, never put up cash for the bid bond unless you have talked to your insurance broker.  If you put up cash and cannot get the performance bond, you could forfeit the cash you put up.

April 27th, 2015 Tip:

The insurance term “umbrella” is commonly misunderstood and misused.   Let’s clarify…   Often I hear people say something like, “Well, if I don’t carry enough property insurance at least I have a $1M umbrella policy to protect me.”  Wrong!  The umbrella coverage has absolutely nothing to do with property coverage whatsoever.  Simply put, the “umbrella” is excess liability over your primary liability limits.  So, if you have a $1M general liability policy and you have a $3M umbrella policy you have $4M in total liability coverage.  Contact your insurance broker for more information.

April 20th, 2015 Tip:

Do you have Water Back up coverage on your Homeowner’s policy?  It is sometimes included in the coverage but often needs to be added by endorsement.  This is insurance against loss to your property that is caused by water which backs up through sewers or drains and is not caused by the homeowner’s negligence.  Think of flooring that is damaged when a sewer backs up.

It is important to know that not every type of water-related damage is covered, but adding Water Back up is an important coverage to have.

April 13th, 2015 Tip:

When purchasing general liability coverage, look at the scope of coverage on your policy. Some companies specify the class codes they will cover.  For example, if you were a clothing manufacturer it would only cover clothing manufacturing and would most likely not cover you if you happen to have a retail outlet.  This is somewhat uncommon but worth looking into.

April 6th, 2015 Tip:

If you are purchasing general liability coverage, make sure coverage applies to your total operation not just your designated premises.

March 30th, 2015 Tip:

Coverage for Directors and Officers can be very confusing.  Read the forms and consult with your insurance broker.  For example I represent a company that refers to their D&O coverage as Professional Liability.  However when you read the policy, there is no Professional Liability.

Also you may have an exclusion for insolvency.  This is not conclusive, but be very careful.

March 23rd, 2015 Tip:

Many businesses are expanding to other states.  Be sure to contact your insurance broker before hiring in other states to make sure you have coverage.  Many states have substantial fines for not having coverage.  I have seen a fines as high as $37,000 in New York for someone that did not have coverage for only a few months.

Also, in New York you have to take out a separate disability policy.

March 16th, 2015 Tip:

If you are selling your business or will be closing your business, keep in mind that you may have liabilities after these events.  For example, if you are a contractor or sell a product you could see an occurrence after the event from your work or product.  Claims are triggered on most policies by the date of the occurrence, not the date the product was sold or the work done.

March 9th, 2015 Tip: 

California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 40% of Americans with Disabilities lawsuits in the US are filed in California.  You can get coverage for this under many Employment Practices policies.

It is not on all policies so be sure to review your policy for coverage.  Look under the third party liability coverage.

March 2nd, 2015 Tip:

Texting while driving can be considered a “Major” violation by many insurance companies.  Many insurance companies are beginning to look closely at driving records that have citations for texting when they underwrite and price automobile Insurance.  We recently heard from one national company, indicating they rate a texting-while-driving violation as a “Class A”  violation – much the same as DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, Racing, etc.  This can mean that a driver with one of these violations would be excluded from coverage, or that the insurance company simply will not write an auto policy at all if there is a driver on the policy with one of these citations.

We urge you to please not text while driving and communicate this to any of your employees who drive for your company.

February 23rd, 2015 Tip:

If you have an employee that gets injured always report this to your insurance company even if it is only a first aid claim.

February 16th, 2015 Tip:

Most general liability policies are written on an occurrence basis. This means the trigger for a claim is when the occurrence happens, not when a product is sold or work was done.  This is always important to remember but especially important if you are selling your business or closing your business.  Depending on your business, you may want to keep coverage going after you are no longer in business.

February 9th, 2015 Tip:

On your automobile policy, both commercial and personal, it is always good to review your vehicle schedule to determine whether you should carry comprehensive and collision coverage.  In the event of a claim, remember the company will only pay for the actual cash value of the vehicle so it may not be worth having these coverages on older vehicles.  Even though you have older vehicles it may make sense to drop the collision coverage and keep comprehensive as it is very inexpensive

February 2, 2015 Tip: 

If you are on a nonprofit board, always insist the nonprofit have Directors and Officer coverage and Employment Practices coverage. You can be held personally liable for the actions of the nonprofit and this will give you protection.

January 26th, 2015 Tip:

All workers compensation policies are subject to audit.  Many other policies like general liability and inland marine policies can also be subject to audit.
If you have an audit on any of these policies, always ask the auditor to send you a copy of his or her audit worksheet.
As an insurance broker, I know that the insurance company will NOT provide the broker a copy of the audit.  It must be requested by the insured.

January 19th, 2015 Tip:

Everyone should review the insurance requirements that you are asked to provide.  This is especially true of contractors.  We have seen instances of contracts requiring businesses to carry insurance for 10 years.  Talk to your broker before signing any contract.

January 12th, 2015 Tip:

It is estimated that one quarter of the credit cards in the world are owned by people in the US.  It is also estimated that one half of credit card fraud and theft are in the US.

This is believed to be because the US has been slow to take on the issuance of chip cards.  Starting in October, businesses that do not take chip cards will have the liability for fraud passed back to them where currently the card issuer is liable.  It will not be mandatory for businesses to accept chip cards, but again they will have the liability.

There is a cost incurred by the businesses who go to chip cards.  If they do so and a customer continues to use a swipe card, the business will not be liable.

Check with your credit card issuer (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, etc.) for more details

January 5th, 2015 Tip:

When you add an automobile to your auto policy let your broker know who the auto is registered to. This is usually not a problem on personal automobiles but on commercial automobiles we frequently see autos registered individually and added to corporate policy

Dec 29th, 2014 Tip:

If you hire employees outside of California, it is imperative that you advise our office.  Unless we have that state scheduled on your policy, there is probably no coverage.  In some states, failure to obtain a workers’ compensation policy may result in substantial fines levied on the policyholder dating back to the original date of hire.  Since insurance coverage can’t be backdated, you may be exposed to substantial fines for a delay in obtaining proper coverage. And depending on which insurance carrier writes your California policy, or which state you are adding, we may need to obtain a separate policy entirely, which may involve some time to accomplish.  So please make sure to communicate with us as soon as you know that there may be an expansion of your operations or hiring of employees in other states.

Dec 22nd, 2014 Tip: 

Before the winter rain storms get under way, take some time to prepare your property and try to protect against damage.

  • Check that all the gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, and try to direct the flow of water away from your home or building.
  • If you have any broken or downed tree limbs remove them so they do not cause a hazard.
  • Even though the storm drain in your immediate vicinity might be your city’s responsibility, take a few minutes to check that it looks clear as well.
  • Put away any outside furniture (or holiday decorations) that might be picked up by the wind.
  • Make sure you have good, operating flashlights and radios, and that you and your family are prepared to be without power if necessary
  • Make sure to charge any electronics, cell phones, laptops etc, so that you have a way to communicate if power or phone lines go down.
  • Be safe, try to stay off the roads if possible!

Dec 15th, 2014 Tip:

If you are a commercial tenant and you sign a lease with a  waiver of subrogation, your coverage on your commercial property policy may not be covered if the damage is caused by your landlord not doing proper maintenance on the roof, storm drains, windows, etc. Just because they are responsible does not necessarily mean you can claim damages from them because of the waiver.

Dec 8th, 2014 Tip:

The Federal government has come down with a ruling that an employer cannot give money to an employee even after taxes for the purchase of health insurance on a government run Exchange.  Do not present a salary increase in any way as to pay for this health insurance.

Dec 1st, 2014 Tip:

If you are a business that must continue to operate and are shut down by  a fire or other covered peril  you might want to make arrangements with a friendly competitor prior to the loss  to produce  your product while you are shut down. This can be covered by your business interruption insurance. Check with your insurance broker.

November 24th, 2014 Tip:

To protect yourself  from unauthorized  withdrawals  on your checking account the  best thing is to set up positive pay.  Below is the Wikipedia description of the service.

Positive pay

Positive pay is a service whereby the company electronically shares its check register of all written checks with the bank. The bank therefore will only pay checks listed in that register, with exactly the same specifications as listed in the register (amount, payee, serial number, etc.). This system dramatically reduces check fraud.

November 17th, 2014 Tip:

If you have workers compensation you should develop a return to work program . This will reduce the cost of a workers compensation claim.  Contact your insurance broker who can help you develop such a program.

November 10th, 2014 Tip:

Previously, I have said to always read contracts you are signing. This is especially true for contractors where the contract may require you to have completed operations for 10 years. This means you will have to have a policy in effect for 10 years as the triggering of a claim is usually the date  of occurrence not the date you did the construction.

November 3rd, 2014 Tip:

It is common practice for a business to be required to add a customer or building owner as an additional insured. If you are a customer or building owner make sure you have a contact in place requiring the additional  insured language and  an additional insured endorsement. Most additional insured endorsements require that there be a contract in place so even if you have a certificate of insurance with an additional  insured endorsement it will not be applicable without a contract.

October 27th, 2014 Tip:

If you have a homeowners or renters policy remember there are limits for jewelry, furs, cash firearms, and silverware. Make sure you talk to your insurance agent/broker about scheduling these items.

October 20th, 2014 Tip:

Insurance companies are seeing an increase in losses from drivers with suspended licenses. Make sure to check your employees driving records. In some cases employers have been held liable if they allow employees with suspended drivers licenses to drive  the employers vehicles. They also could be held liable if employees drive their own vehicles for the employer.

October 13th, 2014 Tip:

It is a good idea to have an inventory of your property in your home or business. It is best to take digital pictures doing a room by room inventory.

October 6th, 2014 Tip:

The leading cause of occupational death is driving accidents. Statistics show that you are 4 times more likely to have a collision if you are talking on the cell while driving and 23 times more likely to have a collision if you are texting.

What is really important to know is that an employer can be held liable if they encourage their employees to talk on the cell or text while driving and there is an accident where the employee is at fault.

A good policy for employers is to have a company policy  telling employees not to use the cell or text while driving.

September 29nd, 2014 Tip:

If you are a subcontractor and are asked by a general contractor to do a job with a WRAP/OCIP be very careful to understand  what the coverage is under a WRAP. Be careful to check the coverage amounts and deductibles. Usually the WRAP covers workers compensation and general liability. Do not sign the contract with the general before talking to your insurance broker.

September 22nd, 2014 Tip:

Employee Handbooks can reduce your liabilities through misunderstandings of mutual expectations!

When drafting your employee handbook avoid these five common mistakes:

  1. Not staying current: Keep your book current, review the handbook at least annually to ensure it is up to date and compliant with Federal, state and local laws.
  2. Inconsistent or failing to enforce: Certain policies are in place to promote workplace efficiency and behaviors. Remember, even though a policy in your handbook is not legally required, failure to consistently apply them can pose liability risks
  3. Unnecessary or Ambiguous Policies: Be sure if using an “off the shelf” handbook may contain policies that don’t apply to your business based on the number of employees you have. Be sure you do not include policies that may grant employees contractual rights that they are not entitled to.
  4. Unclear Grievance Procedure: A well written, clear and comprehensive antidiscrimination and anti-harassment   policy will avoid potential complaints. Clearly state if an employee has a complaint, they may either report their complaint either orally or in writing. These policies should be presented to the employee at time of hire in writing, and keep a receipt acknowledged by the employee, they received these policies.
  5. Violating the NLRA (National Labor Relations Board): Employers must be specific in what is considered confidential or what is restricted in terms of employees discussing employment circumstances through social media. Review NLRA Act, Section 7.

Creating and maintaining an employee handbook requires specific consideration of your business size and needs. A well written handbook can be invaluable.

September 15th, 2014 Tip:

Don’t be fined $5,000.00 for not reporting a serious employee injury within an 8 hour time frame!  A serious job injury, illness or fatality must be reported to the nearest Cal/OSHA office Immediately, but not longer than, 8 hours after the employer knows about such serious injury, illness, or death has occurred. Be sure to report either by phone or email.

It would be wise to keep all pertinent worker compensation claim reporting numbers and websites clearly posted in the office or workplace in case the Human Resource employee is not in and any one may need to report a claim for employee injuries. Contact information for Cal/OSHA can be found at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/DistrictOffices.htm Keep your worker comp policy number, carrier information and claims reporting number up to date and posted clearly for all to see.

If you need any help gathering the worker compensation information pertinent to your business, please feel free to contact us to help you post the information.

September 8th, 2014 Tip:

For contractors be very careful if you are entering into a project that has a WRAP.  Don’t sign the contract without letting your broker see the insurance provisions. Some will require that you provide coverage away from the job. This is always excluded on your general liability and most insurancRE: Work Comp Questione companies will not allow you to extend coverage. You also might be accepting a much higher deductible that you may have on your coverage.

September 1st, 2014 Tip:

If you have an employee that goes out on a workers compensation claim do not fire them or cut their hours before consulting an attorney. If you take any measure that might be considered retaliatory you may be the subject of a 132A claim against you. This will not be covered under your workers compensation or liability policy. It can be covered under employment practices insurance but this may have a very significant deductible.

August 25th, 2014 Tip: 

Beware of the pitfalls of using your personal vehicle as a taxi or livery service!  Many people are using their own autos to drive for hire on various services (you know some of the larger ones)!  Note that personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for liability while a vehicle is used as a “public or livery conveyance.”  Not only would you have NO coverage, you would certainly also jeopardize your policy.   Make sure you know all the risks and review the insurance coverages provided by the company before you decide to take on one of these jobs!

August  18th, 2014 Tip:

In a previous Tip of the Week I said you should always read your contracts and your leases. Be aware that in  many leases the landlord requires that you cover Tenant Improvements – including improvements that were already part of the building when go there.  In the event of a loss, you may be responsible to put in new electrical wiring ,refrigeration, plumbing etc.  Be sure to read your lease carefully or have your attorney and/or insurance broker read your lease to determine whether you need coverage.

August 11th, 2014 Tip:

If you are hiring subcontractors with employees and the subcontractor has no workers compensation, you may be liable for your subcontractors employees that are injured on your job.

August 4th, 2014 Tip:

You all have heard of cyber liability and most people think of this as someone getting into your computer and taking personal information.  But cyber issues can also involve damage to your computer records, which you will have to recreate and could shut your business down causing a business interruption loss. Be sure to back up your computer. At CAL we do this once week but you should think about this  and consult with your insurance broker

July 28th, 2014 Tip:

If you have an experience modification on your workers compensation policy, always have your claims reviewed 7 months before your policy renews. Also be on the lookout for open claims. If at all possible, get an updated status of these claims as the reserves will be included in experience modification worksheet. Your goal is to get the claims closed or reduced.

July 21st, 2014 Tip:

If you have insurance  for your building and/ or contents, see if there are any provisions in your policy  that require you to have a fire alarm or burglar alarm, sprinkler system or ansul system working at the time of the claim.   If they are not installed, or if they are not in working at the time of loss you may not have coverage.

July 14th, 2014 Tip:

In a previous Tip of the Week I recommended you consider a commercial umbrella for your business. Two quick  thoughts on this –  Your umbrella will generally not go over Professional Liability and Directors and Officers coverage.

If you call your broker/agent asking for an umbrella always indicate how much coverage you want. Often, brokers/agents will assume $1 million and you may want more. You also may want multiple levels of coverage which your broker agent can provide.

July 7th, 2014 Tip: 

If you are a Director on a nonprofit Board, make sure the nonprofit has Directors and Officers coverage. As a Director, you have fiduciary liability — meaning you can be held personally responsible for the actions and decisions of the Board.

June 30th, 2014 Tip:

Whenever you receive quotes on workers compensation, and in many cases liability insurance, be sure to look at the rates after all credits and experience modification.

Many times the bottom line premium may be lower with a company because they are using less payroll and or receipts.

June 23rd, 2014 Tip:

When selecting your insurance agent or broker you want to secure a person that you see as one of your most important and trusted advisers alongside your banker, attorney and accountant. Insurance should not be viewed as a commodity purchase.

June 16th, 2014 Tip:

For our nonprofit clients and friends… Are you aware that you have a legal alternative to paying State Unemployment Insurance? One partner in particular boasts a 40% to 50% savings each year by joining their trust. Talk to your broker for details.

June 9th, 2014 Tip:

Do your supervisors/managers know the proper clinic to send an injured worker too? Too often we get a panicked call saying “our employee is hurt, where do we go?” Having the appropriate location known ahead of time would clearly be a best practice. Give us a call us for help in identifying the insurance company approved clinic near you.

June 2nd, 2014 Tip:

On your commercial property insurance always make sure you have water backup. This is not the same as flood insurance but covers things like sewer back up.

May 26th, 2014 Tip:

If you provide medical insurance to your employee and you have less than 50 employees you may want to consider not offering coverage to dependents. This assumes you are not providing coverage for dependents. The reason for this is that if you offer this to dependents they will not be eligible for subsidies in Covered California. If you have over 50 employees you must offer coverage. Talk to your broker about this.

May 19th, 2014 Tip:

It is a good idea to inventory all the property you have in a home or business. Makes notes and take pictures of the belongings. After a claim, you probably wont remember everything you had.

May 12th, 2014 Tip:

When insuring you building, keep in mind most policies exclude pollution coverage. It is important that you be aware that it was prohibited in 1979 for residential properties to use of lead paint, and in 2000 or 2001 for commercial buildings. If your building is older than this, you may have been exposed to lead paint which is not covered on your insurance unless you had a separate pollution policy.

May 5th, 2014 Tip:

I have seen many owners of businesses buy automobiles individually and then insure them under the corporations name. Be sure that the insurance policy for the automobile is always in the name of the registered owner.

April 28th, 2014 Tip:

When reviewing your insurance, take a look to see if you have coverage for employee theft. It is called Fidelity Insurance. This can be theft of money over time or theft of materials. I have a client  that was a small business that had $7 million stolen over time. I have another client whose employee was ordering materials and having them delivered to a location that the employer did not know about.

A risk management tip – Always have a counter-signature on your checks!

April 21st, 2014 Tip:

If you are renting commercial space, be sure to review the provisions that say what you as a tenant are responsible for. This goes beyond insurance – there may be provisions that hold you responsible for disability access, for example. I strongly recommend you consult an attorney before signing any lease.

April 14th, 2014 Tip:

When you are reviewing your business interruption coverage be sure to consider whether your business would be impacted if any of your vendors, customers, or key suppliers were shut down due to a fire or other perils. If you have this situation talk to your broker about dependent properties.

April 7th, 2014 Tip:

Anyone that is a Board member of a nonprofit should make sure the nonprofit has Directors & Officers coverage as you have a fiduciary responsibility.

Barring coverage from the nonprofit, check with your broker to see if you have personal coverage on your homeowners, rental or umbrella policy.

March 30th, 2014 Tip: 

Everyone has at-home hobbies and in today’s world of online buying and selling, it’s very easy to turn those hobbies into money making activities. While you may not consider this a business, if you’ve made more than $2,000 in one twelve month period, your homeowners insurance policy might.  In the event of a loss connected with your hobby, any property or finished product would NOT be covered by your policy. Please contact your broker.

March 24th, 2014 Tip:

I strongly recommend Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This covers things like wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination and wage and hour claims. The companies are taking some dramatic increases on these policies so it would be a good time to review with your broker what your current carrier is doing before you renew.

March 17th, 2014 Tip:

If you are paying for an employee’s individual policy remember under the Affordable Care Act you must treat the money paid as income to employees and the employee will have to pay taxes on that money. You will also need to pay the Federal and state taxes for the employer portion.

March 10th, 2014 Tip: 

While cost is very important when purchasing insurance, think for a moment, why you are buying insurance? If your answer to this question is to protect your assets then cost becomes less of a factor and protection becomes your primary goal. Remember, the cheapest insurance is no insurance.

March 3rd, 2014 Tip:

It is important to have a safety culture in any company. What many businesses do not consider is the cost of a claim outside of insurance. For example, if you have an injured employee there are cost involved in covering the injured employee’s workload. This can include hiring a temporary worker or the additional stress on other employees while the injured employee is off work.

It also can affect moral of the company. A safety culture tells your employees you care about them.

February 24th, 2014 Tip:

Non owned automobile is an important coverage for all business owners. If you have employees or others that may use their vehicle on your behalf make sure to add this coverage to either your commercial auto policy or if you have no autos, your commercial general liability policy.

If they have an accident you could be brought into the lawsuit and this will protect you.

February 17th, 2014 Tip:

If you have a claim and have received a letter that appears to be denying the claim please make sure to contact your broker right away.  Sometimes this letter is not an outright denial of the claim, but something called a Reservation of Rights letter.  This letter outlines what the insurance company will and will not cover and may deny parts of the claim but not the whole claim.  Most of the time this happens with General Liability claims and the company may still be defending you.

February 10th, 2014 Tip: 

Mistakes happen. Your broker should be reviewing your insurance policies but occasionally they will miss something and therefore you should always review your insurance policies to make sure something has not been missed.

February 3rd, 2014 Tip:

Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:

  • Review safety tips for portable heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces, generators, and candles
  • Develop a home escape plan and practice it periodically
  • Ensure that you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly

Visit the U.S. Fire Administration for more safety information.

January 27th, 2014 Tip:

A homeowners insurance policy provides limited coverage for jewelry, firearms, art, musical instruments and other valuable items—We recommend getting appraisals on any of those items over $2,500 in value and scheduling these items individually onto your homeowners policy. Talk to your insurance broker.

January 20th, 2014 Tip:

When purchasing liability insurance always try to have defense cost outside of the policy limits. This is not always possible, but you should always ask the question.

January 13th, 2014 Tip:

You will begin to hear the term ‘Big Data’ in all areas where decisions are being made. This is going to be a factor in underwriting of insurance by insurance carriers. Worker’s compensation for example will be seeing major changes where 5 or 6 factors were being considered. Now there may be 400 to 500 which will be programed into their data base. Just to give you a couple examples, companies may be putting more weight into more current losses than losses three or four years old. Another example is companies will consider in their pricing how frequently insurance get moved from Carrier to carrier. Talk to your broker about this.

January 6th, 2014 Tip:

The posting requirement for the Cal/OSHA 300-A Annual Summary is quickly approaching. Post in each establishment, in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or covered-up by other material, By February 1st of the year following the year covered by the records until April 30 of that same year.

December 30th Tip:

If you are looking to buy coverage through Covered California, there is no additional cost to you to go through an agency or broker. Remember, if you do need help in the process, only brokers who are certified to provide coverage through the CovererdCA marketplace are allowed to assist. Brokers who are not certified are subject to a penalty.

December 23rd Tip:

When you call your agent/broker about a claim, this is considered notice of a claim and your agent/broker must then report it to the insurance company. Notice to your agent/broker is considered notice to the insurance company and your agent/broker cannot hold on to it until you decide what you want to do. This also applies when another party calls into report a claim to your agent/broker. Bottom line is that if your agent/broker knows of a claim against you, they must report it to the insurance company.

December 16th Tip:

It is very important that you notify your agent/broker of a claim as soon as you know about it. It is especially important when that claim is a lawsuit or a notice of claim from the EEOC or DFEH. The reason being is that most lawsuits have a time limit in which to respond to the allegations. This time limit can be anywhere from 30 to 60 days. If you pass this time limit with no response, you can be considered in default on the lawsuit. The sooner you advise your agent/broker of the claim, the sooner they can advise the insurance company.

December 9th Tip:

Your insurance broker should be viewed as a trusted advisor like your attorney, accountant, and banker. A good insurance broker should provide more than insurance and should be able to provide you with resources that will help you efficiently run your business.

December 2nd Tip:

Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips: What to Know Before Shopping Online This Holiday Season

The internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.

But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn’t without risks. These tips from USA.gov can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:

1. Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there’s a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won’t have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can’t withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.

2. Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you’re using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it’s not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.

3. It’s risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.

4. Be careful if you’re buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.

5. Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can’t be given away as gifts if they’ve been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to “gift an item” but it varies depending on the provider.

For more advice on safe online shopping and being a savvy consumer this holiday season and all year long, check out the Consumer Action Handbook–the free government guide to protecting

Brought to you by usa.gov

November 25th Tip:

For about 20 years most commercial liability policies have been written with $1 million liability coverage. In today’s dollars that would be less than $500,000. Medical costs have gone up significantly over those 20 years, as have construction costs. Also, there is more exposure to higher-cost lawsuits than there was 20 years ago.

If you have $1 million coverage, seriously think about increasing your coverage. This is usually done by purchasing a commercial umbrella policy.

November 18th Tip:

If you are an employer and have employee information stored in your computer – like social security numbers, credit cards, health information, drivers’ license numbers,  etc. – you have liability if your computer is breached. Make sure to have  proper protections in place and talk to your broker about cyber liability coverage.

November 11th Tip:

One of the major causes of loss during hurricane Sandy was off premise power failure. Most companies do not provide this on their basic policy but it can be added by endorsement. The amount of coverage will differ by carrier but be sure to talk to your insurance broker about this.

November 4th Tip:

As an employer you have a right to ask your workers compensation carrier to investigate questionable claims and withhold payment for 90 days except for the first $10,000 of medical claims. This is another reason you need to report claims immediately because the 90 days starts on the date of the injury.

October 28th Tip:

The business interruption/loss of rents coverage in many cases provides coverage for your lost income for up to 12 months after the loss.  In many places in California it can take up to 9 months to get a building permit and 12 months  is not enough time to rebuild. Check with your broker to see if you can increase the time period. An easy way to determine if your policy coverage is for 12 months is to check and see if coverage is described as “Actual Loss Sustained.” These forms usually will be for 12 months  unless endorsed otherwise.

October 21st Tip:

Many businesses offer employee benefit plans.  Be sure to check your insurance policy to make sure you have Employee Benefits Liability to protect you against errors and omissions claims arising from the administration of these plans.  This coverage can be included in your General Liability policy for a nominal premium.

October 14th Tip:

If you own property and have a loss you may be required to rebuild, and upgrade the property to comply with current building codes and American with Disability Act (ADA) requirements. Make sure to see if you have Building Ordinance Coverage for these upgrades.

October 7th Tip:

If you are incorporated it is critically important that you protect your corporate veil. One thing you can do is when signing a document is  always put your corporate title after your signature.

September 30th Tip:

The Affordable Care Act will require all employers with  50 or more employees to provide health insurance to their employees in January  2015.  Employers with  50 or more will not have to pay for dependents[ defined as children not spouse] but must offer insurance to dependents. Employers with less than 50 employees do not have to offer coverage to dependents and are not mandated to provide coverage to employees.

September 23rd Tip:

On October 1st, 2013 the major pieces of the Affordable Care Act will begin. The individual mandate will require all individuals to have health coverage per the prescribed guidelines of the Act and be effective January 1st,2014.

Open enrollment will be from October 1st,2013 until March 31st, 2014. This means that the pricing of your coverage will not be determined by any preexisting conditions. Also, the Exchange (in California Cover California) will begin to accept enrollment for January 1st, 2014. To find our more about Covered California go to www.coveredca.org. You can see a calculator there so you can estimate the cost.

September 17th Tip:

One of the best pieces of advise I can give business owners is always read contracts and leases before signing. You should consider having an attorney review them  when you don’t fully understand what you are being asked to sign. This simple step can keep you out of a lot of trouble in the future.

September 10th Tip:

Many people don’t realize that their insurance broker should be not just your advocate on claims but your resource in the fair settlement of a claim. All too often a claim is filed and the contact becomes between you and the insurance company. This can be very frustrating.  Your broker can take care of that worry for you by filing the claims for you and talking to the adjusters about the claims to make sure they are settled as fairly and as quickly as possible.  This way you don’t have the worry or hassle. If you have a problem or concern you should contact your broker or agent right away as it much easier to resolve the issue if the claim is still open.

Workers’ Comp claims should always be filed directly with the insurance company, but you should inform your broker in the event the claim is questionable or becomes problematic. This way your broker is aware of the claim from day one and can assist you with any issues.

September 5th Tip:

Every business with employees should consider employment practices coverage. This provides you coverage should you be sued  for wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. Some policies also include waghttp://www.insurance.ca.gov/0200-industry/0030-seek-pre-lic/e  and hour defense cost.

You also want to add to coverage for  third party liability which includes Americans with Disability Act lawsuits and other third party liability.

August 26th Tip:

If you have an independent contractor working for you make sure you get a certificate of insurance  from your Independent Contractor naming you as additional insured. Not only will this protect you in the event of a claim from  liability for the actions of the independent contractor but when you are audited  by your insurance company on your workers compensation and liability the payrolls and receipts will not  be added to your policy.

August 19th Tip: 

Fiduciaries beware! Your personal assets could be at risk! If your company sponsors a retirement plan for your employees and if you are involved in any way with the management of that plan you are likely considered a “fiduciary”. With that you can be held personally liable for what happens to the plan under ERISA law. Standard D&O policies exclude claims for ERISA violations and an ERISA bond is not the solution either. You can purchase fiduciary liability, however, either stand alone or as an endorsement to your D&O policy.

August 12th Tip:

Did you know that Workers’ Comp Claims need to be reported to your insurance company as soon as possible?  Insurance companies have only 90 days to decide if they are going to accept or deny a workers’ comp claim.  The sooner the company knows about the claim the sooner they can investigate.  It is a good idea to have at least 1 person (and 1 back up person) within your business that has some working knowledge of how to advise the insurance company a workers’ comp claim.

There are 2 claim forms that need to be completed in order to process a workers’ comp claim.  Form 5020 is the form that is completed by you as the employer.  DWC1 is the form that is completed by the injured employee AND by the employer.  These forms can be faxed or sometimes emailed to the insurance company.  You can also file by calling the insurance company.

It is a good idea to advise your insurance agent/broker any time you have a claim as they can be your best advocate in the event there is an issue or if you have concerns about the claim itself.

We have these claim forms in house and can send you as many as you need. If you have any questions about the claim process please call us and let us know!

August 5th Tip:

If you own a commercial building or residence (unless it is a vacation home), then please notify your insurance agent if you anticipate a vacancy of the building for 60 days or more.  Policies contain a vacancy provision that will not cover losses caused by theft, attempted theft, breakage of building glass, sprinkler leakage (unless protected from freezing), vandalism or water damage – and impose a severe penalty for all other losses for a building with a vacancy of more than 60 consecutive days.

July 29th Tip:

Work place safety incentive program idea:  Some businesses embrace the idea of incorporating a work place safety incentive program for all employees to participate in.   Have you walked through a warehouse before and seen a sign like “150 Days Accident Free”? If you have you likely have walked through a business where a safety incentive program is in place. The idea is that the employees will be rewarded for being more aware of their surroundings, being more careful in an effort to stay healthy & safe at work and to be cognizant of your fellow coworkers and encourage them to continue with safe workplace habits. If the business is accident free for a specified period the employee receive rewards. This can be in the form of a company BBQ, gift certificates, raffles, lottery tickets, and grab bag giveaway games for example. Do you have an incentive program success story you’d like to share? Any fun new reward ideas?

July 22nd Tip:

Where’s your clinic?: What happens when you suffer a workplace injury? What is the documentation procedure you use? Do your managers know where to send an injured employee during the course of the business day? Each work comp carrier has their own “Medical Provider Network” and as such you’ll want to be sure your staff is educated as to where the nearest approved work comp clinic is.

July 15th Tip:

If you have commercial automobile coverage check to see if you have medical payments coverage. Usually this is in the amount of $5000. If you do have coverage you may be duplicating your workers’ compensation coverage  which has unlimited coverage. Review your automobile schedule and seriously consider dropping your medical coverage on vehicles used only by employees during work hours.

July 8th Tip:

Workers’ Comp, Ownership and Exclusion/Inclusion: In a Corporation to be excluded you must have stock ownership and have a title such as President, Secretary, Director, etc. If you do not have both stock ownership and a corporate title, you will be included and subject to at least the minimum reportable payroll or as much as the maximum reportable payroll. For 2013 the minimum payroll is $41,600 and the maximum payroll is $106,600.

All others will be considered employees and all of their payroll must be reported. Stock must be held in your name and community property laws do not apply.

July 1st Tip:

I have talked to a number of people who believe their personal umbrella will cover them if they get named individually on a lawsuit against their business. Personal umbrellas will not protect you for this as they are only intended to be excess over personal auto, rental property and homeowners exposures. To get coverage for you being named individually you would need a commercial umbrella policy.

June 24th Tip:

If you have any property or business interruption coverages on your insurance policies, you may have a coinsurance requirement. This requires you to insure to a certain value or suffer what could be a severe penalty should you be underinsured when you have a loss. Be sure to discuss with your insurance broker.

June 17th Tip:

Computers are integral to most of our businesses. While this allows us to do business more efficiently it also comes with unique risk. Hackers, worms, and employee sabotage can literally shut down our businesses. We also have liabilities for private information getting out. This information includes social security numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license information and medical records that get released to the public.

Most all businesses rely heavily on computers. Most business now work solely by computers. Ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you have a virus protection program that is used on internet-facing and internal mail servers, desktops and other mission critical servers?
  • Do you restrict employee access to specific customer files, designated computers, or Personal Identifiable Information (PII) of employees to those with a business need-to-know basis?
  • Are all employees periodically instructed or trained on their specific job responsibilities with respect to information security, such as the proper reporting of suspected security incidents?
  • Do you have a process to review content or materials before they are published, broadcasted, distributed, or displayed on your website for defamation, right to privacy and copyright issues?
  • Are the servers that hold sensitive data in a locked room? Are PCs that have sensitive data bolted or locked down physically?
  • When you send sensitive data on the internet, is it encrypted?
  • Do you have a written Security Plan and is there one person in your company responsible for implementing and updating the plan?
  • Do you change your passwords and delete your web browsing history on a regular basis? Make sure your password is unique and delete your “cookies” often. These are the cyber footprints you leave behind on
  • your computer that can track your previous computer usage. Consult your manual or IT person for more information.
  • Does the company have a social media policy that prohibits unauthorized employees from posting on the company’s Facebook page? Twitter account, etc? Many companies have Facebook pages, so stipulating who is authorized to post is essential.

June 10th Tip:

Cafeteria plans allow workers to reduce their taxable income by making regular contributions to “flexible savings accounts” via payroll deduction. The money placed in FSAs can be used for a variety of eligible expenses, including child care and out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as co-pays and deductibles. As of Jan. 1, 2013, the amount that employees could deduct for health FSAs was capped at $2,500 annually, under the provisions of the Health Care Reform law. Previously, there had been no cap on the allowable payroll deductions for health FSAs.

Employers with Section 125 plans that have health FSA caps in excess of $2,500 must make retroactive amendments to their plans to reflect this new cap by Dec. 31, 2014. Even if all employees’ deductions are in compliance with the new law now, the plan still must be amended.

It is important to note that the new $2,500 annual cap is applicable only to health FSAs.
The $2,500 cap will be indexed for cost-of-living adjustments for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Employers who want to take advantage of cost-of-living adjustments each year should be sure to include such language when they amend their plans.

June 3rd Tip:

Workers compensation policies are audited every year and many have physical audits. If you are audited you may be asked if your clerical employees leave the office on business. If the answer is yes they will be reclassified as outside sales, which has higher rate. You also may be asked if your employees go into the warehouse or into a different part of your operation as part of their job, which has a higher rate. For example, in a bakery, a store cashier goes into the part of the operation that makes the pastry. If they do this, that store cashier will then be classified under the bakery class.

May 27th Tip:

Though you may have physical damage coverage for rental vehicles on your auto policy, you may not have coverage for loss of use by the car rental agency or diminished value of a rental vehicle should you be involved in an accident while operating a rental vehicle; therefore, we recommend your purchasing the physical damage waiver from a car rental agency when you rent a vehicle.

May 20th Tip:

The following list sets forth the minimally acceptable number and type of first-aid supplies for first-aid kits required under paragraph (d)(2) of the logging standard. The contents of the first-aid kit listed should be adequate for small work sites, consisting of approximately two to three employees. When larger operations or multiple operations are being conducted at the same location, additional first-aid kits should be provided at the work site or additional quantities of supplies should be included in the first-aid kits:

1. Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches).

2. Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches).

3. Box adhesive bandages (band-aids).

4. One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide.

5. Two triangular bandages.

6. Wound cleaning agent such as sealed moistened towelettes.

7. Scissors.

8. At least one blanket.

9. Tweezers.

10. Adhesive tape.

11. Latex gloves.

12. Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask.

13. Two elastic wraps.

14. Splint.

15. Directions for requesting emergency assistance.

This is was obtained from the US Dept of Labor Regulation Standard:

Part Number: 1910
• Part Title: Occupational Safety and Health Standards
• Subpart: R
• Subpart Title: Special Industries
• Standard Number: 1910.266 App A
• Title: First-aid Kits (Mandatory).
**Drugs, antiseptics, eye irrigation solutions, inhalants, medicines, or proprietary preparations shall not be included in first-aid kits unless specifically approved, in writing, by an employer-authorized, licensed physician. –§1512. Emergency Medical Services.

May 13th Tip:

“If you own commercial property you may be in a city or county  that might take over 6 months to get your permit to rebuild, should there be major damage to your building. You  should also see how long your business interruption coverage is. Most policies are  for 12 months. You might want to consider extending this to 18 or 24 months.”

May 6th Tip:

“If you have payrolls in different classes on your workers compensation insurance be sure to keep track by each class. You cannot estimate a percentage of payroll because all the payroll will go into the class with the highest rate.”